I’ve been crushing on the ceramic bells I’ve seen pop up in a few of my favorite stores all summer, so it was high time I tried to make something similar myself. These are purely for decor and don’t actually make that lovely sound that hand-thrown clay bells make, but they sure look fancy on my wall. These have a bit of a summer vibe but would also be easy to gild with some metallic paint for the upcoming holidays.
–oven bake clay (I find the Sculpey brand is much softer than FIMO and easier to shape without crumbling. There are a variety of colors to choose from, or you can just use white and paint them.)
–acrylic paint and paintbrushes in various sizes
–gloss paint for oven bake clay
–1/4″ copper pipe
–copper pipe cutter
-something flat and long to cut through your clay such as a popsicle stick, ruler, etc.
-a smooth roller such as a glass or rolling pin
Step Two: I split each of the two balls of clay so that I had a smaller piece and a larger piece. The smaller piece will be the top of the bell and the larger piece will be the tube. They should look like the two pieces on top. Then I stretched my large piece into a long, rectangular shape and flattened my small piece into a circle, like in the bottom two shapes.
Step Three: Roll your rectangular piece flat. Use your popsicle stick to help flatten the top and bottom edges. Also use it to cut the rounded ends off as shown above. You want your clay to be about 1/4″ thick. Keep your excess and use it to make the circular top thicker.
Step Eight: Press the edges of your tube around your circular shape. Then gently smooth the seam out. This takes a little practice, but clay is forgiving. You can just start all over if you aren’t happy with it before you bake it.
Step Nine: Smooth out the seams on the inside of the bell as well. Then place a popsicle stick down into it to make the hole in the clay. I used leather cord so this was the perfect shape. If you use yarn or twine, you can use something with a similar shape to make your hole.
Wait until they’ve cooled, and then feel free to paint them. I taped off one section of the bell for a smoothly painted edge on one, and then just free handed stripes on the other. I also used a pen to illustrate x’s on another. Once your acrylic paint has dried, you can add gloss over your bell for a ceramic look.
Step Fifteen: String your leather cord up through the bell. Then tie another knot gently on top of the bell so it stays put. I then tied a loop knot on each bell, but you can also tie all of the cords in one large knot together.
You can tie them all together at the top after making them different lengths or bundle them three at a time on a decorative hook or a door handle that isn’t in use. They aren’t terribly fragile if bumped around gently, but I wouldn’t advise using them on doors that are used regularly.
These would be a lovely gift for a friend or a beautiful way to decorate for the holiday. Don’t you think? –Rachel
Credits // Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.